How #CPC15 Changed Me: Walk By Faith

Today I continue a series on the experiences from the 2015 Children’s Pastor’s Conference that changed me.

 

While at the conference I had the chance to chat with a person that I had wanted to talk to, in person, for a while. I had spoken with him on the phone and had corresponded via FaceBook quite a bit. As I spoke with him at the conference he shared his story of how he got there. I’m leaving his name off because I know that he would rather this story be about God’s provision than about him.

 

This friend had made plans to come to the conference. In the days prior to leaving for the conference the vehicle that he was planning to drive needed some repairs and he was unable to get the repairs done. He prayed to God and was thinking of taking a bus, but God said no. So, as the conference drew near; as people from all over the country were getting in cars, vans, busses and airplanes to travel to the conference, this guy looked at this wife and told her he was walking to Chattanooga, FROM TEXAS. He put on his backpack and began walking. A short time later his phone rang. The caller asked if he was still going to the conference. Our friend explained that he was going and had, in fact, already left. The disappointment could be heard in the voice of the caller. You see, this caller and his wife had been praying and felt God telling them to let our friend use their big SUV to get to the conference. They now thought that this would not be an option. As they spoke the caller discovered that our friend intended to walk to the conference. This is when the caller offered the use of their SUV.

 

This was great, but as our friend looked at the gas gauge there was only enough gas to get him about half way to the conference. Undeterred, our friend loaded the truck and prepared to leave when he was contacted by another friend. To make a long story short, this contact led to an envelop with enough cash to get our friend to the conference and back.

 

So, why do I tell this story?

 

I don’t tell it to show the amazing faith of our friend. He certainly has an amazing faith, but that’s not the point. I tell this story because as I heard it I was struck by how faithless my life is by comparison. I tell it because I was struck by how faithless my ministry is. How often do I make plans based on what I have or what I can do instead of trusting God with what He has and what He can do. How often do I plan my ministry and do the work of ministry without ever asking God what HE wants me to do.

 

We are called to walk by faith and, if I’m honest, while I have spurts of that in my life, I can not even begin to say that it is a way of life for me. This story changed me. As I move forward I endeavor to ask God what HE wants to do in and through me and my ministry. Then I will have faith the HE will give me what I need to make that happen and will walk in that faith.

 

I thank God for this friend, his faith and his willingness to share his story with me. I encourage you to ask God what HE wants to do and them trust Him to give you what you need. But, be careful. When you ask God what He was to do, He will probably tell you. You may find that what He wants you to do i something that your not entirely comfortable with. But, trust me. It will be worth it.

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Finding The Invisible People in Your Community

This is a follow up to yesterday’s post where I talked about the people around in our communities that we will overlook if are not intentional about looking for them. So, today let’s look at how we can find, recognize and reach the invisible people that are all around us.

Recognize

  • We have to start with recognizing that there are people around us that we don’t see. This can be a difficult realization. But, trust me, there are people you don’t see.
  • The people that we DO see will tend to be those that are most like us, or that our heart more naturally reaches out to. For me that means that, as a white male, I am more drawn to white people. This doesn’t mean that I have any less love for others. It also does not make me a racist. It is a simple fact of human nature that we are drawn, naturally, to people that look more like us, in general. For me it also means I am drawn to kids more than adults because that’s where my heart is.
  • There will also be some natural tendency to be drawn to people of similar socio-econimic status.
  • Age is also a factor. Most of us will not naturally be drawn to people much older or much younger than us.
  • So, the first step is to recognize the groups that you are naturally drawn to. We’ll talk about what to do about that in a minute.

Reconnoiter

  • Ok, I know that some of you may not know what this word means. But, this is the word used to describe when a soldier or group of soldiers ventures out in front of the main army to see what lies ahead. That’s what we need to do. Take a drive through your community. Look at the houses. Look at the businesses. Drive down streets that you wouldn’t normally drive down.
  • On your drive home take a different route, down streets that are not part of your normal routine. You might be amazed what you have been missing.

Recruit

  • Take a look around your church. Who are the people that are different from you. Who are the people that seem to connect to the people that you don’t naturally connect with?
  • Who lives in or around the people that you tend to overlook?
  • Once you’ve identified these people, recruit them to be part of your team. Explain to them why you want them on your team. Chances are they will appreciate your humility and what you are trying to do and will gladly join your team.

Reevaluate

  • Take a close look at the programs and services that you currently offer. It is an unfortunate truth that our programs tend to be designed to reach people like us. This is not intentional, but it is true. So, now that you’ve identified the invisible people around you and recruited people that can reach them, redesign your programs to reach these people.

Request

  • I really wanted to say pray on this one, but wanted to stick with the R theme. So, spend some time in prayer:
    • Ask God to help you see the invisible people around you.
    • Ask God to show you how to reach them.
    • Ask God to send you the people that can reach them.

Read

  • I’m reading a great book called, “Attract Families To Your Church and Keep Them Coming” by Linda Ranson Jacobs. In this book she outlines a number of people that are invisible to most churches.
  • Linda also has a blog HERE.
  • These are two of the many resources out there that can help.

Reach

  • Now get out there and reach the invisible people in your community.

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How CPC15 Changed Me: Invisible People.

Digital StillCameraRecently I attended the Children’s Pastor’s Conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was a great experience, as these conferences usually are. But, in the midst of it there came a moment that truly rocked me. Actually there were several moments that changed me. This is the story of one of those moments.

As I understand it there were around 1200 children’s ministry leaders at this conference. That’s 1200 people that love the Lord, love kids and are eager to do whatever it takes to reach them.

Or are they?

 Your first thought may be, “Of course they are. That’s why they are at the conference.” I would tend to agree, but I think that there is something we might be missing.

You see, this conference was going just like many others that I have been to. Great worship opportunities. Great speakers were sharing their knowledge and inspiration. There were the usual conversations in the hall and meeting people that had previously only been a face or name on social media.

That’s when something happened that changed it all.

 After the last session on the night before the conference ended, a group of us gathered at a local café to fellowship. This lasted till quite late then we all went back to our hotels and went to bed.

Well, not ALL of us.

You see my friend Charlie decided to do something else. You may know him as Kidmin Charlie. If you do, then you know that he has a passion for street ministry and for sharing the gospel wherever he goes. While the rest of us were sleeping, Charlie was walking the streets of Chattanooga. While doing so he encountered a man spending the night in a tent with his wife and daughter. This was within blocks of the conference center. That night it was in the low to mid 30s and raining and this family was sleeping in a tent! Through prayer and faith God provided the means for this family to get a hotel room for the night and to get out of the cold and rain.

As I heard this story It struck me that with 1200 children’s ministry leaders gathering just a block or two from where this family set up their tent, only one of us cared enough to find them. To the rest of us at the conference this family was INVISIBLE.

Please understand, I am not downplaying the value of conferences or the importance of training. I don’t doubt that God is using many of the people at the conference to do amazing things in their communities. Charlie has a unique call on his life. Not everyone’s call is intended to look like Charlie’s. But, we are all called to see the invisible people around us. So, I ask:

Who are the invisible people around you?

Who are the people that no one sees?

Who are the people that no one is ministering to?

In the story mentioned above it was a family sleeping in a tent on a cold and rainy night. But, this is not always the case. Perhaps there is a neighborhood in your area where the people are simply ignored by the church. Maybe it is a poor neighborhood. Maybe it is a wealthy one. Maybe we ignore it because we are afraid of what might happen to us. Maybe we ignore it because we don’t think the people will respond.

In the parable of the sower Jesus does not hold us responsible for the condition of the soil. He does not hold us responsible for the growth. He does hold us responsible for sowing the seed, regardless of the condition of the soil or how much growth WE THINK will happen.

So, think what can you do to reach the invisible people in your community? Let’s look at that tomorrow. In the mean time pray that God will help you to see the people that you have been unable to see before.


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CPC15 Day One

Tonight was the start of the 2015 Children’s Pastors Conference. It had the usual trappings of a conference of this kind: high quality worship, free bag full of goodies, lots of passionate kidmin people. But, there is one thing that makes CPC unique:

The Resource Center

Let me describe it to you like this. Imagine every company that makes or offers anything for children’s ministry all under one roof. That is what the Resource Center is. Ok, maybe there is a vendor or two that is not there, but there are still a great many that are there. Plus you get to talk with the people that actually create the stuff. You can hear they’re heart and share yours. You can tell them about your ministry and, together, determine how their product can best fit your ministry. Certainly there are resource centers at every conference. But, this is kinda like the difference between going to a convenience store and going to a Super Wal-mart. If there was nothing else of value here, the resource center would make the trip worth it.

Matt Guevara

Matt is the current head of INCM, the organization that puts on CPC. After a time of worship and some inspiration from Matt, along with Keith Ferrin, Matt lead the first general session. He spoke some on the history of INCM and CPC. He then moved into talking about the person of God, who God is. He shared this story that I thought was GREAT.

When the power goes out in your house what do you do? You probably get out your phone and use its light to find a candle and something to light it with. This all makes sense. BUT, it wouldn’t make sense to go outside in the morning and point your phone to the sky to see if the sun has risen. Trying to prove God is kinda like pointing your phone at the sun trying.

This is so true. God is God. The evidence of Him is everywhere we look. Even as the evidence that the sun has risen is visible in all but the deepest, darkest places, so is the evidence of God, only even greater. The evidence of God is greater because, even in the deepest, darkest evidence of God can be found. There are ways to block out the light of the sun. There are places that you can go that can completely block out the light of the sun. Don’t believe me that a cave tour sometime. In most such tours there is a point where they will turn out the lights in the cave. In that moment there is absolutely zero light. But, even in the darkest moments of our lives, if we are willing to look, we can see evidence of God.

Beth Guckenberg spoke next. But, I will save that for another post. Mostly because it’s late and I’m tired.


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HD101: Pray With Them At Night

Last week we talked about praying over the kids in your home in the morning. Today we want to look at closing the day with prayer.

 

My kids are 13 and 6. I have tucked them in at night since they were born. My 13 year old son still looks forward to it. If we take too long he will call out, asking if we are coming. One thing that I have not done well at is praying with them during this time. What better thing can we start and end our days with than prayer.

 

Why? It’s important that we model prayer for our kids. Praying over them in the morning helps them to see the importance of starting our days with prayer. Praying with them at night shows them the importance of ending our days with prayer. But, it also helps us to model what prayer looks like. The prayer we pray over them in the morning is a blessing. However, when we pray with them at night we are wide open to pray for whatever is on our minds.

 

Let them pray. If you have younger kids, then they may not be comfortable praying out loud. But, you might be surprised. I have been very surprised at how willing some kids are to pray, even in front of their peers. So, when you sit down to pray with your child. Encourage them to pray too. Take turns. You start, then encourage your child to finish, or the other way around.

 

Meaningful and relevant. Repetitive, memorized prayers are great for preschoolers or even for new Christians of any age. They help someone who’s not be comfortable with prayer learn. But, when we pray with them at night be sure to make the prayers more than that. Pray about things that are going on in your lives. Pray about things that matter to you. Pray about things that matter to your them.

 

Get real. We want our kids to talk about and pray about things that they are struggling with. This night time prayer is a good time for them to share. But, you may have to model it for them. Certainly there are things that we, as parents and adults, don’t need to share with our kids, but outside of that we need to be real with them. Help them learn how to pray about life difficulties by showing them.
This post is part of a series designed to help anyone that is raising children learn how to disciple those children. Check the Home Discipleship 101 button on the home page for links to all of the posts in this series.

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